I am on Italian soil. Va bene! The flight was good. I sat next to a woman who is an inveterate world traveler/adventurer who travels the world chasing full solar eclipses. Her love of travel and eclipses has taken her to Hungary seven times, Ireland, Scotland, England, China, the Sahara, and many other destinations I don’t recall. She also happens to be an exultant member of the American Vokssport Association (ww.AVA.org), a group dedicated to walking for its health and social social benefits. She is in her retirement years and was 50 when she first traveled outside the US. Her advice: Don’t wait so long. Do it now. Advice gladly taken.

A slight pang of anxiety awoke me from my 3-hour nap on the plane. It occurred to me that since I have a whole lotta stuff and no travel partners to help watch my back, I needed to take extra precautions and lock the zippers on my equipment pack and possibly my duffle bag. I also became painfully aware that I had no way to carry the tripod bag—a thought that of course I’d had but had conveniently placed in the back of mind to deal with later. I was “stuck” at the airport for a couple of hours as I set about to make it all more manageable. Here are the pieces of my traveling puzzle:

– One rolling duffle bag (40lbs) containing my clothes, shoes, coats, books and toiletries

– One backpack (20lbs) full of my video equipment

– One Tripod and fluid head (12lbs) in a soft case

– One shoulder bag (18lbs) containing my laptop, journal, phone, cords, money, etc

I found a shop and purchased three small combination padlocks and 2 combination lock straps to lash the tripod bag to the duffle bag. I shuffled things around and finally got it all set up in a workable way. My system is to strap the tripod to the duffle bag and rest the shoulder bag on top of the duffle bag so it’s one big piece of luggage on wheels. All that’s left is the backpack on my back. It’s actually quite doable in spite of the fact I’m carting around close to my body weight in stuff.

Now I am at the Roma Trastevere train station waiting for the next train to take me to Viterbo, and I am very tired…but happy. My eyelids can scarcely keep from sliding down and taking me with them into slumber. Rather than jolt my senses into overdrive with the intensity of Rome, I decided to take a train directly to the town of Viterbo. I may spend tonight there and go tomorrow to Bolsena. All I keep thinking is how I can’t wait to get out with my camera! Everwhere I look I see things I wantt o shoot. I have never felt such a drive to learn a tool of trade. It’s already given me a heightened sense of freedom and confidence.

Later at the Country Bar in Viterbo…

Well, rather than thinking about it while I was waiting, I pulled out Z1-Kenobe (that’s my pet name for my Sony HVR-Z1U video camera). In just 15 minutes I was able to take everything out, hook up the mic and headphones, white balance, audio test, and get a few minutes of footage. I felt comfortable, it didn’t take me long to get it ready for action and repack it to jump on the train. This is going to be a blast! I plan to practice and critique the footage each day. I’ll be ready.

It’s beautiful here, but it is cold and windy. I’m sitting in a café next to the Viterbo Porta Romana train station, just a short walk from the town center inside the old walled city. I just threw back my third Italian espresso of the day in order to enjoy a bit of real estate in this café and write. A beautiful part of this scene is the sunset about to ensue beyond the glass skin of this little refuge.

I am in Viterbo because I hear it’s worthy of a visit, and because it’s on the way to Bolsena where I plan to stay the next two nights. Both towns are stops along the via Francigena pilgrimage trail that I’ve come here to learn about and to capture pieces of with my video camera. And both are on the way, in a general sense, to a place to which I’m making my own personal pilgrimage this week. More on that later…one step at a time.

I forget when I’m zipping around in my car in Colorado, how divine it is to have a robust public transportation system. Riding the trains today was an exercise in awareness. First of all, and most obvious unless you’re a sleep-deprived semi-absent-minded twit who almost sleeps through her stops, is being aware of the train schedules, your location relative to your context, an understanding of directions and getting around in this world. Of course, you have to be hyper aware of your personal belongings, and that is something I don’t have a problem with. Then there’s your typical sense of personal space, and that gets both gently visited and abruptly intruded upon by quite a diverse river of people. Most of these people are well-dressed and poised if even regal Italians, so you don’t seem to mind the intrusion as much as you might otherwise. Really, it’s lovely being back here.

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